Speaking to the Institute of Meat Promotion of Argentina yesterday, he commented that he saw the potential for New Zealand and Argentina to work together to benefit both economies in the long-term.
“Global population growth, particularly the expansion of the world’s middle class, means that demand for protein will increase at a pace that will far outweigh supply,” he told the audience, adding that in that respect New Zealand and Argentina are complementary and, in his opinion, “collaboration will benefit us both”.
New Zealand meat producers are already responding to the opportunities presented by increasing demand from Asia for Southern Hemisphere beef and lamb, he said. New Zealand now produces enough food to feed around 40 million people, but has to work hard to secure and maintain access to overseas markets. “In this regard, we are very much allies in trade groups such as the Cairns Group. We know from experience that we must continue to work together if we are to reduce the trade barriers our products often face around the world.”
He commented that there is interest in talking to Argentinian meat producers on joining the Five Nations Beef Alliance, alongside New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the US and Mexico.
Climate change is another area in which the two nations work closely together, said.
In New Zealand, the Ministry for Primary Industries is working hard to foster innovation in the agricultural sector. “We know that an increase of productivity of one percent could generate up to $4 billion in (export) returns by 2025.”
He used the sheepmeat sector as a good example of increased productivity and said that while the number of sheep in New Zealand has halved since the 1980s, the same amount of meat is still being produced.
“This is because farmers are innovators and have taken up new research in areas like pasture and animal genetics.”
He explained that the New Zealand government had set up the Primary Growth Partnership programme of $684 million of joint funding between government and industry. About half of the projects are in the red meat sector. “We expect these programmes will add about $7 billion to our economy by 2025.”
New Zealand has to work hard to know its customers and the challenge now is to add value to different cuts of meat and continue to sell the New Zealand story, the Minister said.
“The size of growing global demand for protein means that meat producers benefit more from collaboration than competition, New Zealand can learn from Argentina as a country with a proud history of meat production.”
He said New Zealand’s meat sector recognises there is much to be done to enhance collaboration. “I hope that it will lead to a more successful sector as a whole.”
Minister attending ICA
The main reason for the Minister’s visit was attendance at the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (ICA) conference, which is taking place now. The trip is a valuable opportunity for him to meet with counterparts from Latin America, the US, Canada and the Caribbean to discuss some of the issues and opportunities facing the agricultural sector across the world, he says. Some of the issues covered will include the work of the Global Research Alliance, of which New Zealand is a major supporter, and the importance of water storage and management, the Minister says.
Guy is also visiting Uruguay and Paraguay to meet with officials and his Ministerial counterparts there.
“Latin America is one of the world’s fastest growing regions and New Zealand is serious about building relationships there,” he says. “This visit will build on the highly successful trade mission led by the Prime Minister to this region earlier this year, which I was a part of.
“Agriculture is very important to all three of the countries I will be visiting and we can all benefit from greater co-operation. New Zealand is recognised as an agribusiness leader and there is a real desire from other countries to learn from our experience.”